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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Naples Sunset Cruise (Main Street)

Went with neighbors down to Naples Bay and took a sightseeing boat out the channels to watch the sun set over the Gulf.

The biggest surprise was how chilly it was on the water, when we've been having balmy warm days ever since summer ended. We all wrapped up in blankets during the trip, as the wind whipped and made one forget the Floridian sun.

The channels of Naples Bay are lined by waterfront properties that we were told (tour guide) that start at about $5 Million and go all the way up to in excess of $100 Million, per house. It is truly hard to conceive of this much wealth in a small town like Naples. When you add to that the many, many, many luxury towns up and down both coasts of Florida, Boca Raton, Sarasota, Bonita Springs, Palm Beach, too many to name, we are talking about wealth that staggers the imagination. The real kicker to all this was the fact that these homes are purely and simply vacation homes which are occupied for only a few weeks of every year.

We saw homes with tennis courts, Olympic sized pools, entire floors screened in, yards with acres of rolling grass and ancient trees, one home built on three lots, it was so enormous. The 'concept' of big money is something we all are familiar with -- Occupy Wall Street will be sure to remind you, if you forget (and rightfully so, in my opinion) -- but to SEE this lavish display, one enormous mansion after another, was quite a different perspective.

Most of the homes had yachts or motorboats anchored on their private docks. Even the boats were elevated out of the water, for seasonal use only. We didn't see one human being in any of the houses or yards during the whole trip, though the guide assured us that the properties teem with gardeners, housekeepers and maintenance people during the day.

I love America, and making it big is the American dream. So I don't begrudge the wealthy. But in times like we're currently facing, it would be callous of me to ignore the shrinking middle class, the even more impoverished poor, and my own dim circumstances without wondering why the wealthy fight the concept of a more fair distribution of the wealth. Why fight taxation when homes like this stand empty, merely status symbols that do nothing for their owners nor their status. Not even a contribution of $1,000,000 by each of the homeowners in houses valued at more than $5 Million dollars -- by every wealthy family in America - would help end our financial crisis in this country. Actually, there are approximately 3.1 million millionaires in the U.S. and under 500 billionaires, so that wouldn't pay off the $16 Trillion national debt. But an increase in their taxes on an ongoing basis would go a long way to helping. When I worked as an accountant, most of my jobs were for wealthy men, and I can vouch that most of the truly wealthy pay very few taxes. There's a huge industry, bigger than you can imagine, working to make sure there are loopholes, write offs, and tax shelters for the rich. The 1%-ers take their clients on trips and to country clubs and yacht clubs like this one, and write it all off as business expense.

Naples Yacht Club

But, besides a mental review of what's wrong with this country today, we also saw dolphins in the water. They like to ride the waves, and are a joy to behold.

When we stopped where Naples Bay meets the Gulf of Mexico, there is a tiny beach, many pelicans, and our guide said this spot is the only one on earth where crocodiles (salt water) and alligators (fresh water> cohabit. The Gulf was choppy, and when the sun sank down below the horizon, it was easy to forget our politics, our problems and how brief time our time on earth is to enjoy it.

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